Flash Fiction: Perfume (361 words)

“This is the sort of place you get homesick for, even when it’s never been home,” Andie said, holding her cup of coffee.

Leah put her handful of strange small coins onto the counter and waved the scarf she was purchasing at the vendor. She had said hello a few moments before, asked how much, and exhausted her vocabulary frighteningly fast. She was holding tight to the word, good-bye so it would still be whole in her mind when she turned to walk away.

The man across the counter pulled the coins into his palm and counted them, smiling as he got the end of the rough stack. Then he handed one back, and nodded to her.

Leah pulled the scarf out of its wrapping, and twisted it around her neck. It was soft, and just warm enough to gentle the breeze she had been walking in all morning.

There were oranges somewhere nearby. And sea salt. She could smell them both on the breeze, though she couldn’t see them. It made the breeze seem long, not the short gusts from home, but something that stretched and drifted, and did as it pleased. She could understand why people here had given the winds natures, had called them by names. Whoever this one was, it wore the best perfume.

“I know I’m just going to want to come back here again, over and over,” Andie said as they started down the street again.

Leah tugged on her scarf around, giving the wind space to play in the ends.

“You know?” Andie asked. She turned sideways on her next step to catch her friend’s face.

Leah nodded immediately. It was just a reflex to Andie’s cheerful patterings. She hardly thought about it.

When they returned home, Leah wore her scarf through the winter. For months, if she pressed her nose into the fabric, she could smell the salt and sweet, and the breeze around her city seemed less sharp.

Then she lost it. On the train maybe. Or the back of the coffee-shop chair. She had to steady herself on a breath when it felt like she’d lost a childhood memory.

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